Aleppo: A Nightmarish Turn in a Horrific, Reactionary Civil War in Syria

December 19, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


People walk amidst the rubble caused by relentless bombing in Aleppo, Syria on December 13. (AP photo)
People walk amidst the rubble caused by relentless bombing in Aleppo, Syria on December 13. (AP photo)

A vicious turn in the horrifying civil war in Syria is now taking place before the eyes of the world in the city of Aleppo. For more than four years, the reactionary Syrian government headed by Bashar al-Assad—backed by imperialist Russia and forces tied to the Islamic theocratic regime in Iran—has been relentlessly attacking eastern Aleppo. That area of the city had been held by a coalition dominated by reactionary anti-Assad forces backed by the U.S. and its regional allies like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Attacks by Syrian and Russian jet fighters, Scud missiles, and barrel bombs (metal barrels filled with explosives and sometimes shrapnel, oil, or chemicals) dropped from helicopters have destroyed hospitals and reduced large areas to rubble. Blockades have led to devastating shortages of food, water, and electricity. Attacks by the anti-Assad forces have also killed many civilians in the government-held areas of Aleppo. Over 30,000 people have been killed in Aleppo in the course of the conflict—part of the 400,000 to 500,000 Syrians killed in the civil war overall.

Now, after all this death and destruction, the Assad forces are about to take over eastern Aleppo. As we post this, under a Russia-Turkey ceasefire agreement, bus convoys are supposed to be evacuating surviving civilians and anti-Assad fighting forces out of eastern Aleppo.

While the battle for Aleppo is apparently drawing to a close, at least for now, the reactionary civil war involving gangsters big and small continues. In addition to hundreds of thousands killed, more than one in three Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, with 4.8 million ending up in crowded, squalid refugee camps in various countries. Another 6.6 million have been turned into refugees inside Syria. Large sections of other cities and towns across Syria have been turned into piles of stone and brick. Irreplaceable historical sites have been ruined.

Obama has been blaming everything that’s happened in Syria on Assad and his backers and acting as if the U.S. is just a well-intentioned bystander concerned about a humanitarian disaster. At his December 16 press conference, Obama pointed to Assad, Russia, and Iran and claimed, “Responsibility for this brutality lies in one place alone: the Assad regime and its allies Russia and Iran. The blood for these atrocities are on their hands.” But Obama and the U.S. imperialists are dripping with the massive flood of blood that’s been shed in Syria.

Syria, sitting in a strategic location in the Middle East, has been dominated by various imperialist powers working through repressive tyrannies. In the spring of 2011, as part of uprisings all over the region, tens of thousands in Syria rose up against the hated Assad regime. But in the absence of revolutionary leadership, events since then have been shaped by vicious predators—global, regional, and local—operating against the backdrop of the clash between increasingly globalizing Western imperialism and Islamic fundamentalist Jihad. (See the quote from Bob Avakian on this page on the two “historically outmodeds.”) Syria’s mass uprising fairly quickly turned into the savage reactionary civil war that is going on now. And Islamic jihadist forces like the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and Al-Nusra, backed in various ways by global and regional powers, gained control over large swaths of territory in Syria and neighboring Iraq.


The situation is very complex, with many different factors and forces at play, and there are sharp differences within the U.S. ruling class over how to proceed in Syria and the Middle East overall. But what the U.S. imperialists essentially did was to step into the situation in Syria, intervening and maneuvering in various ways to advance their interests, including knocking back Assad’s backers, Russia and Iran. The U.S. sponsored or set loose a slew of reactionary armed forces—most of them Islamic fundamentalists who the U.S. currently finds in its interests to promote. Meanwhile, the chaos unleashed by the U.S. moves against Assad and his allies has given openings for ISIS to advance and extend its nightmarish rule over people living in the areas under their control.

The reality is that no one has been more responsible for the death, destruction, and suffering visited upon the people of Syria—and the peoples of the Middle East overall as well as North Africa and Central Asia—than the U.S. And even as the American media is full of coverage of Aleppo and Syria (while covering up the real role of the U.S.), they have little coverage of another major crime in the Middle East happening now that the U.S. is responsible for. In Yemen, the U.S.-backed Saudi Arabian regime is waging a savage war against the Houthis, a reactionary group seen as a threat to Saudi and U.S. interests. The Saudi military continues to fly U.S.-made warplanes and drop U.S.-made bombs on the people in Yemen, destroying hospitals, reducing neighborhoods to rubble, and killing thousands. (See “America―Up to Its Eyeballs in Mass Murder and Starvation in Yemen” at

Whatever the course of the U.S. imperialist actions in Syria in the coming period, what is certain is that they will only bring down even more horror on top of the immense horrors that the world has already seen.


Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.